When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth
Let’s be honest, we’re living in a time where a lot of things don’t make sense. But then, it is entirely possible that the very unknowability of life is what gives it its meaning, you know what I mean? But we should still ask questions, right? We should strive for knowledge, even though the more we know the more we realise we can never truly understand. So, alright then, why don’t I start? What is the deal with sixties’ caveman pictures?
Honestly, why did anybody think they’d make money? I don’t get it. Dinosaurs, women in skimpy costumes, adventure... fair enough, all that I get. But an entire movie with silly made-up words instead of dialogue? Surely, that affects the entertainment value of the picture. And, anyway, why bother? What is the bloody point? I mean, verisimilitude is not these lads’ strong suit is it? Not that many cavemen had neatly trimmed beards, for a start, and I’m pretty sure the whole dinosaurs and cavemen living together side by side got the screenwriters cornered regularly by irate anthropologists at parties. But we can’t have them speaking English, oh no, that would just be ridiculous.
Now, to be fair, I should point out that When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth is actually a pretty fun movie. It’s based on a treatment by J.G. Ballard of all people, and concerns the fortunes of a tribe of cavemen - although they actually live in little huts by the sea so they’re more like Beach Men really, which would make the younger males… well, never mind. Anyway, the plot is incredibly simple and impenetrably confusing all at the same time, which is quite a trick, and has something to do with the moon appearing, for the first time seemingly, and completely freaking out the entire tribe. Now, they either try and sacrifice the blonde ex-Playboy model to appease this new moon, or their usual Tuesday morning blonde women sacrifice goes wrong when one of the women escapes and that’s when the moon appears and causes havoc. Honestly, I’m really not sure. But the main thing is she escapes, falls in love with the neatly-bearded caveman who rescues her, and the pair of them end up being pursued through a dinosaur infested landscape by a group of people who are pretty sure that they have a handle on the whole weird glowing rock in the sky problem, and it definitely involves killing the attractive blonde lady. I’m sure J.G. had a point, or possibly just an accurate reading of what would make a good cavegirl picture and a worryingly empty wallet. All I can say is, there’s a lot of running, a lot of cleavage, a lot of beards and a lot of people saying the word ‘akita’. And they say it a lot. It feels like ‘akita’ has about a million meanings until you realize that all it really means is - ‘Oi !’ But you can’t have people yelling ‘Oi !’ at each other for a whole movie, hence ‘akita’. Although, if there is an ‘Oi !’ cut of When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth out there, I for one would love to see it.
I don’t know, maybe the lack of character, dialogue, meaning or point is what makes it such a fun movie. It’s an adventure in its purest form, with no subtext or complications; just an old-fashioned story of a man and a woman running away together from people that want to tear them apart. Plus, and this is obviously pretty important, the dinosaurs are cool. There’s one sequence involving a little dinosaur breaking out of an egg, where even fifty years later I was properly impressed by the artistry and skill it must have taken.
And, you know, it’s sort of a relief that it’s not trying to illustrate anything fundamental about the human condition. It’s not pretending it has any answers to the mysteries of life. It’s just a movie with monsters, true love, and no dialogue to follow. You can just watch, enjoy and drift away to a long gone world where things did make sense. So, I guess, maybe I do get why they made caveman pictures, which is one fewer question to ask in this endless quest for meaning in a probably meaningless world. And that does come as something of a relief, even though there are so many more. Speaking of which…